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Cigars and Wine


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This review by Daniel Rogov::

Rotllan Torra, Tirant, 1997: So full of exuberance that the wine has an almost savage side to it, this full bodied Spanish red attacks the palate with its firm tannins and lively acidity. Happily, together with that there are plenty of raspberry, blackberry and licorice flavors and aromas that linger comfortably on the palate and nostrils long after the wine has been swallowed. A wine that is best not with food but with a fine cigar. Drink now if you must, but the wine will be at its best only from 2006-2012.

Got me thinking about my first experiences with wine and cigars. As a non-smoker I would never have discovered an affinity between the two if it weren't for the coaching of Bruce Shomler, owner of Chequera Vineyard. Bruce invited me to sit on the steps of his beautifully restored circa 1910 farmhouse and enjoy a young Justin cabernet franc with a cigar. While I was experimenting with the fine art of keeping the damn thing lit :angry: , Bruce explained that Andre Tschelistchef had taught him to evaluate a young, tannic wine by sipping it first, then enjoying it with a fine cigar. So first we sipped the cab franc. Young, with harsh green tannins. Then we puffed on a cigar and returned to the cab franc. The tannins and nicotine in the cigar inured our palates to the tannins in the wine, and after lighting up, the cab franc was, by comparison, lush and fruity.

Are there any experienced cigar aficionados here who can weigh in on this experience?

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Mary Baker

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It is now twenty minutes before midnight where I am, and I am on the way to my small terrace with my Montecristo and a small snifter of Armagnac. I will say before that that cigars, like wine, each have their own personality, and matching the right cigar to the right wine or brandy can be an enormous pleasure.

As to tonight - it will be a Montecristo Especiale No 2 (Panatela) from Cuba -

Medium bodied and with flavors of nutmeg, citrus fruits and spices this marvellous, smooth smoke maintains its character until it is completely burned down. The Armagnac is to be the Chateau Laubade of 1972.

If I were to choose a wine instead of an Armagnac or Cognac for this particular cigar it would almost certainly be a relatively young Brunello di Montalcino, perhaps the 1997 or 1999 Pian delle Vigne of Antinori.

Call it a game if you like but I'll tell you with no shame whatever that this is a game that gives an enormous amount of pleasure.

Edited by Daniel Rogov (log)
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Good night, Daniel. What a wonderful note, and thank you for sharing with us as you close your day.

Are you familiar with a practice of dunking the cigar in brandy or grappa and then puffing on it? (Puffing end, of course, not the glowing end, as my mentors graciously pointed out. :huh: )

What is the purpose? Can it be performed with wine as well? Would it impress anyone if I demonstrated this technique? :unsure:

_____________________

Mary Baker

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I think I love wine and cigars too much to force them together. There is no dry table wine that really stands up to the intensity of a fine cigar (IMHO of course). Just taste a wine before and after you have lit your cigar and there can be no doubt that everything about the wine changes on your palate.

The intensity of fine spirits and fortified wines with cigars is a match made in heaven. For me there is nothing better than Armagnac and a great cigar.

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Are you familiar with a practice of dunking the cigar in brandy or grappa and then puffing on it?  What is the purpose?  Can it be performed with wine as well?  Would it impress anyone if I demonstrated this technique?  :unsure:

Rose, Hi...

I am indeed familiar with the practice of dipping the tip of one's cigar into brandy. Winston Churchill did it all the time, Marilyn Monroe did it and Bill Clinton does it some of the time.

Alas, most true aficionados of the combination of cigars and brandy (I include here in broad terms Cognac, Armagnac, Calvados and other fine brandies) acknowledge that although it can have its charm, the "dipping" habit is somewhat barbaric serving primarily to make the smoking tip of your cigar mushy and perhaps ruining the brandy of your choice.

As to dipping a cigar into wine, I would sooner have an encounter with the bubonic plague. At least that, if caught early enough, can be cured.

Ye faithful curmudgeon

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I think something (Corona) with a european wrapper would work OK with the late harvest Zinfandels available. Avoid the Madura wrapped Robusta, except with the Cognac, Brandy, Armagnac or Eau de Vie.

Raoul

"I drink to make other people interesting".

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Dipping a fine cigar in brandy is akin to shooting it in the heart. The flavors will condense at the tip and not flow through wet tobacco like it should. The tar will build up and make the cigar sour. Wine is not a drink I quaff with my Havanas but I do enjoy a nice aged vintage port which goes superb. Coats the mouth and allows the different tobacco flavors to really open up on your palate.

"My rule of life prescribed as an absolutely sacred rite smoking cigars and also the drinking of alcohol before, after and if need be during all meals and in the intervals between them." ~Winston Churchill

Morels- God's gift to the unworthy human species

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I think something (Corona) with a european wrapper would work OK with the late harvest Zinfandels available.  Avoid the Madura wrapped Robusta, except with the Cognac, Brandy, Armagnac or Eau de Vie.

Raoul

On a wine tasting excursion to Dry Ckeek Valley AVA in northern Sonoma we once tasted a fine Late Harvest Zinfandel. As is not so uncomnon nowadays, the winery offered us a square of dark chocolate to have with the wine. There was another group, consisting of three guys who took their late harvest zin outside and enjoyed it with cigars... The wine was from J. Fritz but I have no idea what type of cigars they had!

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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As a collector of both wine and cigars, my experiences over the years has taught me that other than fortified wines, wine cannot readily stand up to a fine cigar. A glass of Port, preferably 'Vintage' is a fine accompaniment to a fine cigar. I suppose a light cigar like a Macanudo would be OK with a robust red but I don't smoke Macanudos since they stopped making them in Jamaica many years ago.

My favorite spirit is Cognac but with the constant price increase and quality decrease in grades, we have been switching to Bourbon. Once in a great while I like a fine blended Scotch Whisky such as JW 'Blue' with a cigar. My alcoholic beverage of choice with a cigar has become a heavy German beer such as Hofbrau Maibock or Spaten Optimator, preferably on draft.

As far as cigars, i am smoking my Cubans and not purchasing anymore because the quality is non-existant. The finest cigars in the world today are being made by Padron and there are a few other non-cuban producers that are doing an excellent job. -Dick

Edited by budrichard (log)
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Dick, I'm with you on most of these issues. No dipping my cigars in any of my drinks and I too feel that spirits and fortified wines like port seem to pair better with a fine cigar. I have a affection for single malts, really good bourbons and rum. I actually find rum to be one of my favorite pairings. I view my cigars like a view my wine. Both are meant to be enjoyed to savor the flavors and aromas. Unlike cigarettes, cigars do have very complex flavors that can be enjoyed. Like wines my cigars are kept in their proper environment and aged to perfection. Vintage cigars that have been cared for well are a real joy. There are so many similarities between the wine and cigars.

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  • 2 years later...

Lately I've been enjoying the pairing of a medium or light-bodied cigar alongside a glass of Rioja. The leathery, tobacco notes and tannins of the Rioja seem to provide a nice parallel to the cigar smoke. Also the cigar does indeed seem to make the wine taste "fruitier" than it is on its own... but in a good way.

-James Kessler

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It is now twenty minutes before midnight where I am, and I am on the way to my small terrace with my Montecristo and a small snifter of Armagnac.  I will say before that that cigars, like wine, each have their own personality, and matching the right cigar to the right wine or brandy can be an enormous pleasure. 

Call it a game if you like but I'll tell you with no shame whatever that this is a game that gives an enormous amount of pleasure.

It's a game I'd LOVE to play! I too, love cigars and adore wine. Although I haven't had a cigar in some years (to appease a husband who had finally given up smoking cigarettes, which I abhor), I can hardly think of two things I love more (I will omit my obsession with my Yorkies :rolleyes: ) and together they are my idea of Nirvana! There is hardly a more sensuous or tactile experience, in my mind.

So, I'm terribly curious, Mr. Rogov~ with what indulgence would you choose to pair a Pleiades Orion? Seana Nightingale

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  • 1 month later...

I am glad I found this post, for a fine cigar and a fine glass of wine are two things I adore amongst the best things in life. But alas, never together for me. I agree that it ruins both, especially a fine red (but even a white gets all muddled up too). Plus, I have found that, in combination, my mouth becomes SO dried out that it is quite unpleasurable.

I prefer spirits with my cigars and have moved through them all with much pleasure. Single malt Scotch first, moving onto Bourbon, then wonderfully smooth Rye, then into the sublime world of cognac and armagnac, incredibly viscus Port (esepcially Tawny), and more recently into some great Irish whiskies, finally coming home to what I think is THE best drink with a fine cigar: RUM. Not just any rum mind you, but the finest of the sipping rums that I prefer to drink neat (as I drink all my spirits). The rums that are cognac-like at times. Rums like Anniversario, Flor de Cana, Pyrat, and my absolute favorite, Zaya (a rum from Trinidad that has a wonderful but not over powering sweetness to it).

And, BTW, I never dip my cigar in anything. Yes I tried this when I was younger and it makes a mess of the cigar and the drink and ruins both.

"Nutrirsi di cibi prelibati e trasformare una necessita in estasi."

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I am glad I found this post, for a fine cigar and a fine glass of wine are two things I adore amongst the best things in life. But alas, never together for me. I agree that it ruins both, especially a fine red (but even a white gets all muddled up too). Plus, I have found that, in combination, my mouth becomes SO dried out that it is quite unpleasurable.

I prefer spirits with my cigars and have moved through them all with much pleasure. Single malt Scotch first, moving onto Bourbon, then wonderfully smooth Rye, then into the sublime world of cognac and armagnac, incredibly viscus Port (esepcially Tawny), and more recently into some great Irish whiskies, finally coming home to what I think is THE best drink with a fine cigar: RUM. Not just any rum mind you, but the finest of the sipping rums that I prefer to drink neat (as I drink all my spirits). The rums that are cognac-like at times. Rums like Anniversario, Flor de Cana, Pyrat, and my absolute favorite, Zaya (a rum from Trinidad that has a wonderful but not over powering sweetness to it).

And, BTW, I never dip my cigar in anything. Yes I tried this when I was younger and it makes a mess of the cigar and the drink and ruins both.

This might be better discussion for the Spirits Forum, but I agree bigtime with the rum-cigar pairing. With more robust cigars I've found that an Old-Fashioned with something like Cruzan Single Barrel with it's charcoal notes is very good indeed, the touch of sweetness in the cocktail serving to keep my mouth from drying out. Kind of makes me want one right now (at 10 am :cool: ).

Andy Arrington

Journeyman Drinksmith

Twitter--@LoneStarBarman

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